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    Tackling the Brantas River crisis, UNAIR and TU Delft empower women

    Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR) is committed to addressing environmental issues. Its Faculty of Science and Technology (FST) has forged collaborations with Technische Universiteit (TU) Delft in the Netherlands, environmental activists and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to tackle the crisis facing the Brantas River.

    Stretching 120 kilometers and coursing through 16 regencies and cities, The Brantas River plays a pivotal role in the lives of surrounding communities. It serves as a crucial water source for agriculture, livestock farming, residential areas, and industries. However, the river is currently confronted with environmental challenges, including water pollution.

    This international and inter-institutional collaboration aims to address the crisis concerning the water quality of the Brantas River. TU Delft in the Netherlands initiated this program back in 2018. The water crisis in the Brantas River has been under scrutiny for the past five years. The year 2024 marks the dissemination phase of the ongoing program.

    Other than UNAIR, three other universities are involved: Universitas Brawijaya (UB), Universitas Merdeka, and the National Institute of Technology in Malang. This collaboration is also supported by the Environmental Agency (DLH), Regional Development Agency (Bappeda), and the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) of East Java.

    They have launched initiatives such as developing a website and application for monitoring the river, conducting water patrols, and providing education alongside relevant agencies to improve water quality and address illegal structures.

    The program, “Brantas Harmony,” aims to reduce pollution and control industrial waste contamination. This endeavor utilizes the pentahelix collaboration method, which involves five key pillars: businesses, practitioners, communities, academics, government, and media.

    To keep stakeholders informed about the program’s progress, UNAIR’s FST organized a one-day Water Quality Seminar at the Brantas Watershed Management Unit on Thursday, April 25, 2024, at the Majapahit Hotel in Surabaya. During her address, Dr. Fatmawati, Vice Dean III of FST UNAIR, emphasized the vital importance of preserving natural resources for human life, including rivers.

    “However, we fail to realize that our rivers face various challenges and problems related to pollution. All parties must collaborate continuously to maintain the ecological balance of water systems, especially the Brantas River,” she stated.

    Furthermore, Fauzy Nasruddin MSc, Acting Governor of East Java, emphasized the significance of sustained collaboration in his speech. He also highlighted the need for various efforts, including innovative strategies, to preserve the Brantas River. It includes raising awareness and prompt reporting to government agencies to facilitate swift intervention.

    Empowering women

    During the event, Prof. Emy Susanti of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) UNAIR highlighted the empowerment of women in the Brantas River area. Based on her research and studies, women have minimal knowledge of environmental pollution.

    “The participation of women in the empowerment of the Brantas River is not as expected. They are unaware that the river is polluted. Many do not agree that the river is contaminated by factories,” she added.

    Prof. Emy also pointed out that, on average, women do not understand the connection between environmental pollution and resulting illnesses, such as skin diseases or gastrointestinal disorders.

    According to Prof. Emy, raising women’s awareness about the importance of environmental and water conservation is essential. This effort also aims to empower women.

    “Focusing on empowering women is crucial. Many women cadres can be at the forefront in providing knowledge that the river is polluted. All agencies must be involved, such as providing training and directly engaging in fieldwork to provide education, not just empty talk,” she emphasized. (*)